Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education

February 06, 2013

To the members of the MIT community:
With great optimism and excitement, I write to share the news that I am creating an Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.
Reinventing what we do and how we do it
At my inauguration, I made the case that, thanks to the pressures of cost and the potential of new online teaching technologies, higher education is at a crossroads. As a result, we have a truly historic opportunity to better serve society by reinventing what we do and how we do it. I proposed that MIT should continue to use MITx and edX to create the best online education possible, in ways affordable and accessible for students far beyond our campus. And I challenged us all, in the great MIT spirit of learning by doing, to use our own campus community to invent the residential research university of the future.
Listening to our community and the wider world
Since then, in my listening tour across MIT, people have told me over and over how glad they are that MIT is helping to lead this educational revolution — and how important it is that we "get it right." Conversations with leaders in Washington and at the World Economic Forum have confirmed my view that we are rapidly reaching an inflection point in the history of higher education and that the outcome will be critically important for MIT, for colleges and universities in general, and for generations of students around the world.
Leadership of the Task Force
To help MIT assess and rise to the demands of this complex challenge, I am following a path many MIT presidents have followed successfully before me: I am creating an institute-wide task force that will draw on and focus this community's legendary capacity for rigorous analysis, technical know-how, creative problem-solving and thinking big.
To lead this effort, I have chosen two co-chairs: Professor Sanjay Sarma, who already serves as our Director of Digital Learning, and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz SM '01. A member of the edX board, Israel also brings to the task a deep understanding of MIT's physical and financial resources and previous experience in leading such a complex "volunteer" effort, since he co-chaired the 2009-2011 Institute-Wide Planning Task Force that helped MIT find a creative path forward during the global financial downturn.
I am asking Sanjay and Israel to assemble the remaining members of the Task Force, including faculty, students, alumni and staff who can represent the broad interests of the MIT community. I expect that they will announce the list of members within a few weeks.

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I encourage everyone to read my official charge to the Task Force, which describes its scope and purpose. We face big questions, with big consequences. To arrive at the best solutions, we will need to draw on the collective experience and wisdom of individuals and groups from across the MIT community. If we share our best thinking, informed by our highest aspirations for MIT, I have no doubt that we will come to answers that will serve our community and advance the larger conversation.
L. Rafael Reif